Naked Eye vs. Nerdy Guy: Should the Canucks trade Jannik Hansen?

NHL insider Elliotte Friedman touches a little on each Canadian team’s trade deadline goals, and believes the Canucks, Oilers and Flames will all be big players on February 29th.

In this edition of Naked Eye vs. Nerdy Guy, Dan Murphy and Thomas Drance debate whether Jannik Hansen should be moved at the deadline.

Nerdy Guy: Jannik Hansen is a well above-average middle-six forward having a breakout offensive season on the Vancouver Canucks’ top line.

Hansen, 29, has already set a career-high for goals this season with 19. He’s fast, he’s an excellent defensive forward and he brings veteran leadership to a club that will need all of those things now and going forward.

In addition to being a quality NHL contributor, Hansen is signed to a team-friendly contract. On a four-year deal worth $10 million in total, Hansen will make $3 million in actual salary in each of the next two seasons. He’s provided the Canucks with a good deal of surplus value on his contract already and his $2.5-million cap hit seems likely to be efficient on the back-end too of the deal – a bit of a rarity for contracts that buy all of a veteran player’s unrestricted free agent seasons.

So Hansen is a good player, who isn’t on the wrong side of 30 yet, and is signed to a thoroughly efficient contract. Why would you trade a player like that?

You wouldn’t if you were a contending team, obviously, but that doesn’t describe the Canucks at the moment. Vancouver is having its worst regular season in 16 years, and the club needs to look to the future. Part of that should involve accumulating as much good young talent as possible.

If Hansen can bring you that sort of player, or a first-round draft pick, then in theory that’s something the Canucks should strongly consider. They should consider it precisely because Hansen is good and affordable.

It’s likely that Hansen’s value will never be higher on the trade market then it is right now. Whether you’re looking at scoring rates, offensive totals, shot-attempt differential or war-on-ice’s goals-above-replacement (GAR) stat – your average NHL player begins to incur significant diminishing returns as a point producer once they’re in their early 30s. Hansen will turn 30-years-old two weeks after the deadline.

Because Hansen ranks in the top five among all NHL forwards in goal-scoring rate, it’s possible that Hansen might be valued as a top-six winger on the trade market and the thing to keep in mind is that Hansen is more accurately described as a very good middle-six forward. He’s a capable first liner, a good second-line forward, and a high-end third-line winger.

Montreal-based tracking firm Sportlogiq’s data suggests that Hansen generates zone time and contributes to possession-driving plays like a third-liner. While he currently rates as a top-six forward in terms of scoring chance-generating plays, that’s likely a product – partly – of spending so much time with the Sedin twins. In terms of his actual scoring chances, he’s produced them at the rate Sportlogiq expects of a fourth liner.

If you can sell a great third-line forward like Hansen at the historic market price of an everyday top-six forward, then that has to be a tempting proposition for a team like the Canucks. After all, Hansen is probably the club’s only real opportunity to sell high on an asset at the deadline.

Naked Eye: Wut.

Wait, WHAT???

Me after reading Drance on this topic.

Chris Farley


Total. Utter. Confusion.

Let me get this straight, Thomas Drance is advocating trading Jannik Hansen? I thought I would never live to see the day. Drance, who has been in Hansen’s corner from the get go, now wants to kick him to the highest bidder?

Outrageous. And no, I’m not on board.

Listen, I understand the logic of selling high. Hansen is having a career year. His even strength goals per 60 minutes is right there with the best of the best. He’s got two years left on a very reasonable and affordable contract. You’ll likely never get a better return for him than right now. But unless someone is willing to do something outrageous, I don’t think the Canucks should move him.

Here’s the thing: Daniel and Henrik Sedin have two years remaining on their deals and you have to believe that the Canucks brain trust is aiming for this team to make it back to the playoffs with some legs in a year or two.

That might seem like a long shot, but if the twins are hanging around then giving them one more run at the post-season has to be the goal. And they’ll need someone to play with. Jannik Hansen has proven this season that he is an excellent fit with the Sedins.

Prior to this season the Drance Man was crushing everyone with numbers who dared to say Hansen didn’t mesh with Dan and Hank. The only problem was that it was a relatively small sample size (something the numbers guys hate).

Anyhow, the sample size is ample enough now to prove that Drance was more than on to something. And all of a sudden he wants to not only remove him from the top unit but ship him out of town. Blasphemy I tell you.

If the Canucks don’t trade Hansen there is the possibility that he doesn’t play with the twins next season. Look at what happened to Radim Vrbata after all.

Thirty-one goals last season, the majority of which were scored alongside Daniel and Henrik, and then, POOF! He was gone.

The Sedins love having Hansen on their line. He’s an aggressive forechecker with great speed. He’s an absolute puck hound. And since Desjardins has kept him on that top line since early November, it’s clear the head coach loves him there too.

Even if Jake Virtanen (or a very rich Milan Lucic) gets a crack to play on the top line next season – Hansen will always be a great option there. And really, because of his versatility, he’s a great option for lines two through four as well.

Throw in the fact he is low (no?) maintenance and the coach doesn’t have to worry about Hansen sulking if he is thrust into a different role. And what a great example Hansen is for the younger players this franchise is trying to develop on the fly.

He’s also a great way to keep some of those players afloat, as Drance mentioned.

Hansen can really drive play when he’s moved down the lineup. Finally, this is not a player in his mid-30s. I don’t believe his speed is going to fall off the map in two seasons.

Again, I fully understand the logic behind exploring a Hansen trade. But it’s never a bad thing to hang on to quality, reasonably priced, effective players either.